Escambia County sets sights high for playoff push

Published 10:15 pm Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Five games into the 2010 season and the Escambia County Blue Devils are looking at what might be their best season and first playoff berth since 2007.

The Blue Devils (4-1, 2-1) are rolling through the season picking up four important victories over T.R. Miller, B.C. Rain, W.S. Neal and Faith Academy with their lone loss coming at the hands of the UMS-Wright Bulldogs.

With success coming quick, the Blue Devils and their first-year coach Mark Heaton are hoping they continue to compete at a high level in order to make the playoffs and possibly win their region.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Heaton said having four wins at this point of the season really helps his team heading into the final stretch.

“It’s better to be 4-1 than 1-4,” Heaton said. “We are off to a really good start, and we knew in order to be competitive, we really needed to have a high winning percentage going into the second half of the season. Four out of our final five games are region games, so it’s crucial to have this momentum.”

With the Blue Devils gaining steam, the team looks visibly stronger than they did against Linden and Hillcrest-Evergreen in their jamboree game.

Heaton said there are several improvements that have been made by his team during the season.

“We seem to have made a lot of improvements,” Heaton said. “We still have things we need to work on in order to win these region games and get to the playoffs though. The improvements have been made in all areas, but the most noticeable is our team chemistry. We are playing more like a team and look more like a team now. We are coming together, getting stronger and that makes me feel good going into the latter part of the season.”

Aside from the improvements, there are still aspects of the game that the Blue Devils continue to work to perfect.

Heaton said he sees different things that need to be better in order for ECHS to be the best they can be.

“We have a lot of room for improvement,” he said. “Our special teams needs to be refined over the next few weeks; we also need our running game to get stronger in our pro-sets and we need to do a better job of defending the run. How we play in the first half of a game is one of the important things we are looking at. We need to build on playing better football in the first half of the game to help balance how strong we are in the second half.”

As for players who have improved themselves during the season, Heaton could not just find one.

He said he has seen a lot of different people step up their game over the past five weeks.

“We have seen a lot of kids come on,” Heaton said. “All of our players have really stepped up and improved. Chris Smith has really grown up leaps and bounds as a fullback. Our offensive line as a whole has made tremendous strides and they continue to get better week-to-week. Defensively, Domineque Hubert and Tyler Nero have given us a great spark. They are playing good football.”

Despite the success and two of their toughest games to come in Thomasville and Jackson, the goals have not changed for the Blue Devils.

Heaton said the goal is to win a championship.

“I expect our team to compete for a region championship,” Heaton said. “We are still still in the hunt, and I want us to go undefeated in the second half of the season. The kids want it and our coaches want it. We are going to line up and compete and if we make the playoffs then we’ll treat that like a new season. We are just taking it one game at a time.”

The Escambia County Blue Devils have a strong momentum as they enter the latter half of their season.|Photo by Adam Prestridge